All food on Valiant Lady is included in the price of your cruise fare, and you'll find what feels like infinite variety onboard. Overall, the quality and service is excellent, no matter the venue you pick. You won't find a traditional big main dining room on Valiant Lady, a departure from what most other cruise lines offer. Instead, the ship takes a dine-as-you-want approach, letting you pick which restaurant you're in the mood for at mealtime. This is mostly a freeing tactic throughout the day, but in the evening, it means you'll need to make reservations, which fill up fast. Your best bet is booking on the app before you even set sail.
Worth noting: One of the things we love about dining on Valiant Lady is the abundance of grab-and-go options, packaged neatly in reusable containers for you to eat where you wish. You also can order food delivered to you virtually anywhere, at an extra charge.
Designed by Tom Dixon (the same designer behind the ship's Rockstar Suites) and with a menu by Mexican American chef and activist Silvana Salcido Esparza, Pink Agave tastes as good as it looks. Big bubble lights guide guests through Sailor Services into a hip, hidden pocket of the ship featuring dishes from the Yucatan and Mexico City. Plates here are meant to be shared family style and come in three sizes: small, medium and large. Coming with a big group -- or just a big appetite -- is a great way to experience as much as possible from the menu, but don't miss out on the tuna aguachile and esquites street corn salad, pato roasted duck mole or the smoked pork cochinita pibil.
Tip: Start or end your email with a smoky tasting from the restaurant's in-house mezcal bar, or at least treat yourself to one of the fantastic Mexico-inspired cocktails or fresh juices (agua frescas).
Valiant Lady sees the return of the line's wildly popular Korean barbecue spot Gunbae, which we found to be surprisingly good, not just for a shipboard specialty restaurant, but in general. Budget some time for your meal here, be open to trying new-to-you dishes and be prepared to hilariously fail at some traditional Korean drinking games that, at first, seem like child's play. Here, you'll get your fill and grill on with go-to dishes like the marinated galbi, side dishes of banchan, bibimbap rice bowls, spicy jjigae kimchi soup, seafood platters and savory pancakes. Dietary restrictions are well-catered for here, impressively even gluten-free.
While there are no formal nights on the ship, it's common for cruisers to tart themselves up a bit for meals at this steakhouse favorite. Located at the aft of the ship, the best seats in the house overlook the ship's wake, making sunset-timed dinners a sight to behold. Traditional menu items from starters from the raw bar, sizzling bone marrow and wedge salad lead into The Wake's meaty menu of lamb chops, various cuts of beef and a handful of seafood selections. There are a decent number of gluten-free items, though, as expected, not a lot on the menu for vegetarians or vegans. The Wake is also open for weekend brunch, serving a variety of eggs Benedict and bubbly -- and reservations book up fast.
Tip: After you descend the stairway entrance, look up at the hanging light fixtures and you'll notice the subtle nautical design nod -- they're hung in the shape of a nautilus.
Dedicating a restaurant to vegetarians and vegans on board feels like it's been a long time coming, and Razzle Dazzle proves that Virgin Voyages was ripe and ready to answer the plant-based call. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, this eye-catching restaurant decked out in angled black-and-white stripes is a can't-miss while on board, even if you're normally a meat muncher. Dig into the mushroom tartare, coconut milk fairy toast (a rainbow-sprinkled crowd favorite), "fish" and chips, heirloom winter squash ravioli or even a juicy plant-based burger.
Tip: Plant-based isn't as black-and-white as it seems here: They've got a "naughty" meat-friendly add-on menu hiding in the back for those who know to ask.
The Dock House
We loved this mezze-meets-dim-sum casual eatery. Located toward the aft starboard (right as you’re facing forward) side of the ship, The Dock House is the perfect place to grab a casual, lounge-y few bites or full-on meal, depending what you're feeling. No reservations required, just plop down in one of the seating areas, and wait for the mezze cart to wheel on by. Pick the tapas you want to try or order a larger main from the menu to be delivered. We're still thinking of the beetroot hummus, grilled Spanish octopus, and the cauliflower couscous (not to mention the chocolate hummus for dessert).
Tip: Come here whenever you're looking for a tasty top-up between lunch and dinner or for some light pre-dinner snacks and drinks. Live music also makes an appearance here most nights.
An Italian restaurant with some seriously great options, Extra Virgin offers a mix of classic dishes and some fun, modern takes as well. As with many Italian restaurants, the meal is a multicourse affair, meant to be enjoyed slowly. There's an antipasto course, a stellar meat and cheese sharing board, a pasta course, a main course and dessert. Diners can pick and choose what they want if they don't think they can make it through a full five-course meal, and while we found portions to be right-sized, we cried uncle after three. If you're going to limit yourself, make sure you order the meatballs and the bucatini carbonara, with a grilled Mediterranean sea bass. The wine list here is extensive as well, and a sommelier can help you with course pairing.
Tip: If you're not up for the full meal, sit at the bar, sip a negroni and share a charcuterie board. You can watch chefs whip these up fresh at a nearby prep station.
The Galley. Valiant Lady claims it has no buffet, which is technically true, though it does have what it calls "The Galley," where guests head for quick casual bites. The approach feels like a true food hall: You order from different food stations, all in one place, offering a variety of items, so you could grab a little sushi, a bit of tacos or a nice big salad. The difference, ostensibly, between The Galley and a buffet is that all food on Valiant Lady is made fresh to order; nothing sits in massive warming trays under tepid lights. Additionally, The Gallery experience is waiter-served, a temporary COVID-19 approach that ended up being popular and stuck. The sheer variety is great, and we found favorites quickly with the sushi and spicy ramen bowls. We also loved that you could grab to-go options from coolers near the entrance, and these changed depending on time of day, so in the morning, it was fruit or overnight oats, while at snack time, you could grab cheese and meats. The Galley is open all day, and it even has a breakfast-all-day menu.
Tip: A number of seating areas, particularly those at the aft, feature charging stations with USB ports and U.S. outlets, in case you need to juice up while you fuel up.
The Pizza Place: The ship's aptly named spot for grabbing a pie offers dine in or carry out. The space itself is chill: The best part of the restaurant is actually the wonderful, shaded outdoor seating area. Many diners lingered long after their meal was finished. As with every other restaurant on Valiant Lady, food here is made a la minute, so you order your pizza and wait for your buzzer to signal your food is ready. If you just can't wait, premade salads are available in a cooler next to where you order. The variety of pizzas is fairly small: just six options, including a vegan pie. Pizza here is just OK; we weren't wowed, but it hit the spot when we were hungry for something different. It's also open late into the night, so it got pretty popular after the evening's entertainment began to wind down.
You won't have to pay extra for specialty restaurants on Valiant Lady. The cost of all food on Valiant Lady is included in your cruise fare.
Even outside of the dedicated vegetarian-forward restaurant Razzle Dazzle, Valiant Lady offers an exceptional selection of marked menu items for vegetarians and vegans alike. Gluten-free items are also marked on most menus across the ship (and nearly every dish at Pink Agave is naturally gluten-free), though we found these were less likely to be as advertised on more than one occasion. Servers are trained on dietary restrictions via an online course, and passengers are advised to speak to a restaurant manager if they have allergies. There is no dedicated onboard space for preparing allergen-friendly meals.